A Russian fighter plane flew close—too close—to a U.S. Navy plane on Tuesday, officials confirmed.
The alarmingly close flyby took place just one day before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Washington, DC.
In the incident, the jet came within 20 feet of the American plane and remained that close for about five minutes, a U.S. defense official told Fox News on Friday. Specifically, the Russian plane was identified as a Su-27 Russian fighter jet, and the American plane was identified as a P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft.
“While this one was considered by the flight crew to be safe and professional, this sort of close encounter certainly has the possibility to become dangerous in a hurry,” the official said.
The incident occurred over the Black Sea, reported Russian state-run media.
“The pilot of the Russian plane identified the air object as a US P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft. The Russian fighter conducted a greeting maneuver after which the American reconnaissance plane changed its route and moved away from the Russian border,” the Russia’s Defense Ministry stated on Friday.
Captain Pamela Kunze, a spokesperson for the U.S. Navy in Europe, said the P-8A’s maneuvers were “safe and professional,” CBS News reported.
“For aviation interactions, distance, speed, altitude, rate of closure, visibility and other factors impact whether an event is characterized as safe or unsafe, professional or not professional,” Kunze said. “Every event is unique and any single variable does not define an event.”
Top photo credit: U.S Navy photo by Personnel Specialist 1st Class Anthony Petry